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(ĭzmīr`), formerly


(smûr`nə), city (1990 pop. 1,762,849), capital of Izmir prov., W Turkey, on the Gulf of Izmir, an arm of the Aegean Sea. The largest Turkish seaport after İstanbulİstanbul
, city (1990 pop. 6,748,435) and metropolitan muncipality, capital of İstanbul prov., NW Turkey, on both sides of the Bosporus at its entrance into the Sea of Marmara. Since 2004 the metropolitan municipality and province have been coterminous.
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, its exports include cotton, tobacco, vegetables, manufactures, and carpets. It is also an important commercial and industrial center, whose manufactures include processed food, textiles, tobacco, cement, petrochemicals, and manufactured goods. Tourism is increasingly important. It is a road and rail transportation center, and an annual trade fair is held there. The Aegean Univ. and several museums are there, and Izmir was probably the birthplace of the poet HomerHomer,
principal figure of ancient Greek literature; the first European poet. Works, Life, and Legends

Two epic poems are attributed to Homer, the Iliad and the Odyssey.
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. Izmir prov. is rich in mineral resources.

The city was settled during the Bronze Age (c.3000 B.C.). It was colonized (c.1000 B.C.) by Ionians and was destroyed (627 B.C.) by the Lydians. Rebuilt on a different site in the early 4th cent. B.C. by Antigonus IAntigonus I
(Antigonus the One-Eyed or Antigonus Cyclops) , 382?–301 B.C., general of Alexander the Great and ruler in Asia. He was made (333 B.C.) governor of Phrygia, and after the death of Alexander he was advanced by the friendship of Antipater, who with Ptolemy I and
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, it was enlarged and beautified by LysimachusLysimachus
, c.355–281 B.C., Thessalian general of Alexander the Great. He was a commander in Alexander's fleet on the Hydaspes as well as his bodyguard. On Alexander's death (323 B.C.) Lysimachus took control of Thrace. He joined (314 B.C.
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, and became one of the largest and most prosperous cities of Asia Minor. Its wealth and splendor increased under Roman rule. The city had a sizable Jewish colony, was an early center of Christianity, and was one of the Seven Churches in Asia (Rev. 2–8).

Pillaged by the Arabs in the 7th cent., it fell to the Seljuk Turks in the 11th cent., was recaptured for Byzantium by Emperor Alexius IAlexius I
(Alexius Comnenus) , 1048–1118, Byzantine emperor (1081–1118). Under the successors of his uncle, Isaac I, the empire had fallen prey to anarchy and foreign invasions.
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 during the First Crusade, and formed part of the empire of Nicaea (see Nicaea, empire ofNicaea, empire of,
1204–61. In 1204 the armies of the Fourth Crusade set up the Latin Empire of Constantinople, but the Crusaders' influence did not extend over the entire Byzantine Empire.
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) from 1204 to 1261, when the Byzantine Empire was restored. Also in 1261 the Genoese obtained trading privileges there, which they retained until the city fell (c.1329) to the Seljuk Turks. The Knights HospitalersKnights Hospitalers,
members of the military and religious Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, sometimes called the Knights of St. John and the Knights of Jerusalem. The symbol of the Order of St.
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 captured the city in 1344, restored Genoese privileges, and held the city until 1402, when it was captured and sacked by TimurTimur
or Tamerlane
, c.1336–1405, Mongol conqueror, b. Kesh, near Samarkand. He is also called Timur Leng [Timur the lame]. He was the son of a tribal leader, and he claimed (apparently for the first time in 1370) to be a descendant of Jenghiz Khan.
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. The Mongols were succeeded in 1424 by the Ottoman Turks. A Greek Orthodox archiepiscopal see, the city retained a large Greek population and remained a center of Greek culture and the chief Mediterranean port of Asia Minor.

After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, the city was occupied (1919) by Greek forces. The Treaty of Sèvres (1920) assigned Izmir and its hinterland to temporary Greek administration, but fighting soon erupted between Greek and Turkish forces. Izmir fell to the Turks in Sept., 1922, and a few days later was destroyed by fire. Thousands of non-Muslims were killed by Turkish troops and thousands of Greek civilian refugees fled the city. The Treaty of Lausanne (1923) restored Izmir to Turkey. A separate convention between Greece and Turkey provided for the exchange of their minorities, which was carried out under League of Nations supervision, and the population of Izmir became predominately Turkish. The city suffered greatly from severe earthquakes in 1928 and 1939. It is now a NATO command center for SE Europe.


See G. Milton, Paradise Lost: Smyrna 1922 (2008).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a city in western Turkey; the administrative center of İzmir Vilayet. Situated on the coast of the Gulf of İzmir in the Aegean Sea. Population, 521,000 (1970).

The city was founded as a colony by Aeolian Greeks in the second millennium B.C. under the name of Smyrna. It was destroyed by King Alyattes of Lydia in the sixth century B.C. but was rebuilt on a site southwest of the old city, closer to the sea, in the fourth century B.C.

Smyrna, known as İzmir in Turkish, became part of the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. The city underwent a transformation, beginning at the end of the 18th century, into one of the economic and cultural centers of the empire. İzmir was occupied by Greek troops on May 15,1919 (during the Greco-Turkish War of 1919–22). It was liberated on Sept. 9, 1922. The İzmir port was transformed into a naval base after World War II (1939–45). The headquarters of the southern command of NATO are located in İzmir.

İzmir is the chief Turkish port for exports and is second only to Istanbul in imports. It is a railroad and highway junction with an international airport. The city is an important industrial and commercial center of a rich agricultural region that grows tobacco, cotton, grapes, olives, and grain. Its important products include textiles, flour, tobacco, vegetable oils, cement, glass and ceramics, wood products, machines, and ships. Lignite, mercury, and asbestos are mined in the area. An annual international trade fair is held in İzmir. The city has a university, an observatory, and an archaeological museum.

The city’s ruins include a temple from the seventh century B.C. , the Sepulcher of Tantalus, a Hellenistic theater and stadium, and an agora (marketplace) with porticoes and a basilica from Roman times. The pavilions of the international trade fair are among the important contemporary buildings. The remains of three Roman aqueducts are located nearby.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a port in W Turkey, on the Gulf of Izmir: the third largest city in the country; university (1955). Pop.: 2 500 000 (2005 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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